Expectations are riding high on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Jammu and Kashmir later this month, with mainstream political parties urging the Centre to initiate steps to address the internal and external dimensions of the slow moving peace process.
"We hope that the Prime
Minister's visit will focus on the peace process in the broadest sense. We hope it is not just at the localised level but a dialogue is initiated with the separatists as well as Pakistan," chief spokesman of Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Naeem Akhtar said.
The separatist camp has, however, shown no interest in the Prime Minister's visit. Yasin Malik-led Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has called for a shutdown the day Singh lands in Kashmir.
The Prime Minister, along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, is scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir on June 25 to inaugurate the railway link connecting Kashmir in north of Pir Panjal Mountain range to Banihal town on the south. This section is vital for linking Kashmir with rest of the country through the ambitious rail project started 10 years ago.
Akhtar said the PDP is hoping that J&K-specific confidence building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan will be taken to next level as the recent elections in the neighbouring country have ended the period of uncertainty.
Among the wish list of the PDP is extending the cross Line of Control (LoC) travel for all residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and removing the bottlenecks in the cross-LoC trade.
"We hope that the Prime Minister also addresses the issue of unemployment in the state and alienation among the youth as well. More than ideological aspirations, it is a matter of survival for the youth who have framed in false cases," he said.
The ruling National Conference (NC) said although the PM's visit was for inaugurating development projects in the state, the party was hopeful that Singh will initiate steps from Kashmir for resolution of the problems of the state.
"Now that there is a change of guard in Pakistan, we hope that the Prime Minister initiates from Kashmir steps for resolution of Kashmir issue," Tanvir Sadiq, NC leader and political secretary to chief minister Omar Abdullah, said.
Sadiq said whatever the Prime Minister announces during his visit will be beneficial for the state.
State secretary of CPI(M) Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said Singh should at least send a message to the people of Kashmir that justice will be done on all fronts.
"We expect that the least the Prime Minister can do is to assure the people of the state that various recommendations of the working groups set up by him will be implemented," Tarigami said.
The recommendations that Tarigami wants to be implemented include return of power projects to Jammu and Kashmir, enhancing the cross-LOC movement and good governance.
The communist leader said while there was a lot of hue and cry about revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the state, the Public Safety Act (PSA) was being badly misused by the state police.
"It has created an atmosphere of uncertainty among a large section of people. The Prime Minister should assure the people that there will be no more repressive measures," he added.
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